Luis Suarez bite: Brendan Rodgers criticises FA's handling of 10-match ban for Liverpool striker
Liverpool manager speaks to the press for the first time since FA issued ban for bite on Branislav Ivanovic
Thursday 25 April 2013
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers today claimed the Football Association prejudiced striker Luis Suarez's hearing by an independent panel.
The Uruguay international was handed a 10-match ban - described as "severe" by the Reds boss - for biting Chelsea Branislav Ivanovic.
However, Rodgers questioned the panel's ruling after the Football Association, immediately prior to the hearing, stated the statutory three-match suspension for violent conduct was "insufficient".
"We need to understand what an independent panel is," said the Liverpool manager, who also queried how much of the punishment had been as a result of Suarez's record rather than the actual incident.
"We had been given clear indications by the FA that there was going to be an independent - or so-called independent - case put together and then we would receive what that sanction would be.
"If you are an independent panel and yet the day beforehand the FA come out and say he (Suarez) will serve more than three games it is not independent because they are already putting pressure on the sanction.
"There is a prejudice there straightaway.
"There was a lot of euphoria around the time it happened.
"Everyone has their opinion - which is normal. People will be emotional in their statements - former players of the club and ex-players of other clubs having their opinions - the Prime Minister even chipped in, which is a different matter altogether.
"But when you look at it in the cold light of day then it was violent conduct.
"It is the first time I have ever heard of an independent inquiry being dictated to by so many people.
"There is absolutely no doubt there should be a protocol in place which tells us what the variances are because there are inconsistencies there."
Rodgers referred to the cases of Jermain Defoe, who escaped with just a booking for biting West Ham's Javier Mascherano and Chester's Sean Hessey, who was banned for five matches for a bite on Stockport's Liam Dickinson - both in 2006.
"There have been two incidents of this type of scenario. One player received no ban and continued to be chosen by the FA as part of the England squad," he added.
"The second player received a five-game ban - so as you can imagine when Luis Suarez receives a 10-game ban it is very difficult to understand, and even more so for Luis.
"For him to receive that (10-match ban), when the comparisons of the similar incidents is somewhat different, then that is what is hard to take."
Suarez was fined for the incident but Rodgers said there was no thought of imposing a club ban as they knew an FA sanction would be swift.
However, they did not expect it to be so harsh, even though the 26-year-old has a previous seven-game ban for biting PSV midfielder Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax on his record and an eight-match suspension last season for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
"It is the severity of the ban that has hurt most," said the Northern Irishman.
"That is something we are bitterly disappointed with - not so much the ban because everyone has seen it and Luis was very open and honest to know it was wrong.
"I felt it could have been 12 games but with a six-game ban and six games suspended, looking at his future behaviour.
"I don't think anyone could have argued with that.
"I can't help but look at it and look at the sanction which has been put on Luis and I honestly feel the punishment has been against the man rather than the incident."
Rodgers, who was speaking before the club received the panel's written report into their decision, felt there should have been an element of rehabilitation as well as punishment.
"That (the ban) tells the player that it is unacceptable what he did on the field - and everyone here knows that," he said.
"But you have to put the carrot in front of the player to help him improve his behaviour and help in the rehabilitation.
"What has happened in this case is there has only been punishment. There has been no through of rehabilitation - unless something dramatic comes in the report that tells me otherwise.
"It is just a straight 10-game punishment.
"The player needs a bit of help and that is something we will look to provide at the club - something I would expect any club or any business to do: to look after their employee if they make a mistake.
"The objective is to make sure it does not happen again and that is something which is at the forefront of our minds at this moment.
"But the bottom line is he has received a punishment we don't believe is fair and matches the incident that happened."
The FA had no comment to make on Rodgers' claims.
However, the organisation's rules, which all Premier League clubs sign up to, clearly state the FA can invoke the "insufficient punishment" reasoning if it sees fit.
Chelsea's Eden Hazard was punished under the same rationale for kicking a ballboy at Swansea and the FA does not believe that case was prejudiced.
It is understood Rodgers will not face any FA censure for his comments.
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